With dementia (and specifically Alzheimer’s disease) a part of my family history, an article in The Atlantic, “The Startling Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer’s,” caught my attention.
Its sub-title, “A high-carb diet, and the attendant high blood sugar, are associated with cognitive decline,” reinforced my commitment to the way I have been eating: watching my intake of added sugar & processed grains, especially non-whole grains.
The Atlantic piece cites a study, “published in the journal Diabetologia, which followed 5,189 people over 10 years and found that people with high blood sugar had a faster rate of cognitive decline than those with normal blood sugar—whether or not their blood-sugar level technically made them diabetic. In other words, the higher the blood sugar, the faster the cognitive decline.”
“Prediabetes,” which simply means your blood sugar is higher than normal, affects roughly 86 million Americans. Rosebud Roberts, a professor of epidemiology and neurology at the Mayo Clinic says even people who don’t have any kind of diabetes should watch their sugar intake. “Just because you don’t have type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean you can eat whatever carbs you want,” she said. What we eat, she added, is “a big factor in maintaining control of our destiny”.
There are genetic and other, non-nutritional factors that contribute to the progression of Alzheimer’s. But, decisions we make about food are one risk factor we can control.
“Alzheimer’s is like a slow-burning fire that you don’t see when it starts,” says Melissa Schilling, a professor at New York University. It takes time for clumps to form and for cognition to begin to deteriorate. “By the time you see the signs, it’s way too late to put out the fire.”
Last fall, I posted this piece about the way I eat now. It’s mostly about the changes I have made over the past two years relative to my sugar intake. My way is not the only way. And I will likely change the way I eat many more times over the coming years, the same way my eating has evolved regularly over the past 40+ years.
I hope the scary link between dementia and sugar inspires you to evaluate, and potentially change, the way you eat.
How do you eat relative to added sugar? Please join the conversation with your comments…